Microsoft is deepening its industry vertical cloud play, launching three new industry-specific cloud offerings: Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing and Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit.
Of the three new offerings, Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services is designed to provide a faster pathway to modernise core banking services, develop deep analytics and enable new ways to reach customers. Public preview of this offering is scheduled to start on 31 March 2021.
Meanwhile, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing is aimed at enabling manufacturers to secure remote work and the safety of frontline workers, build more agile factories, create more resilient supply chains and enable an always-on service. This will be available for public preview by the end of June 2021.
Additionally, Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit creates a connected intelligent platform so staff and volunteers can focus on their core work. Launching in public preview by the end of June 2021, Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit uses the company’s nonprofit common data model to connect its cloud capabilities with common nonprofit scenarios.
Microsoft’s focus on industry-specific solutions isn’t new. Rather, it is an ongoing strategy by the vendor to drill down into industry verticals with its solutions.
Indeed, Microsoft has also flagged the first update to its Cloud for Healthcare offering and the public preview timing for Microsoft Cloud for Retail, which was introduced in January.
Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, announced last year, provides integrated capabilities that deliver automation and efficiency on high-value workflows, as well as deep data analysis functionality for both structured and unstructured data.
The first update to this offering will be available in April 2021 and will include new features for virtual health, remote patient monitoring, care coordination and patient self-service, and support for eight new languages.
At the same time, Microsoft Cloud for Retail, announced earlier this year, is designed to connect the end-to-end shopper journey, using data insights to help employees improve operations, sales and customer service. It will be available for public preview in March 2021.
Broadly, Microsoft’s industry-specific cloud efforts bring together common data models, cross cloud connectors, workflows, application programming interfaces (APIs) and industry-specific components and standards, and pairs them with the breadth of its cloud services, including Microsoft 365 and Teams, Azure, Microsoft Power Platform, Dynamics 365 and associated security solutions.
Through its range of industry-specific clouds, Microsoft aims to — in its own words — empower businesses in their respective industry verticals to deliver value faster, adapt quickly to changing conditions and build for the future, with security at the core.
Microsoft claims that its industry clouds provide an on-ramp to the broader portfolio of Microsoft cloud services, enabling customers to begin with the areas where the need for technology transformation is most urgent and so enable organisations to "jump ahead and deliver value at record pace”.
According to Microsoft One Commercial Partner corporate vice president Gavriella Schuster, the company’s industry clouds have been shaped, in part, thanks to feedback and advice from the vendor’s expansive global partner network.
“We have been very purposeful in how we engage with partners across industries for these Industry Cloud efforts,” Schuster said in a blog post. “Microsoft services partners, systems integrators, independent software vendors (ISVs) and advisories all play a critical role in enabling the Microsoft Cloud for our industry customers.
“Microsoft partner solutions provide critical building blocks to empower and activate a connected set of experiences for customers with data and AI workflows built on Microsoft Azure, human workflow with Microsoft 365, and business process workflow with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform.
“Having a rich partner ecosystem across the Microsoft Cloud is vital to supporting customer needs across the entire value chain for each industry,” she added.
Schuster also noted that each industry cloud delivers a set of interconnected and composable capabilities that can be activated one at a time based on customer interest. These are fully customisable and configurable to each customer’s environment, so partners play a key role in tailoring solutions to each customer’s need.
“This added layer of partner-led customisability and depth is a key differentiator for us, and it positions our partner network as a vital element of the ‘Industry Cloud’ experience for customers,” she said.